Friday, 7 August 2015

Christmas Killing of a Cousin

A man who killed his teenage cousin at a Christmas party by stabbing her was found guilty of manslaughter and jailed for twenty years.

On Christmas night 1879 a family gathering was held at the Gibbons household in Midghall Street. After too much to drink by younger members, Patrick Gibbons said it was time for them to make their way home. A row broke out, leading to his eighteen year old nephew Patrick Kelly lashing out at him with a knife, cutting the face.

Kelly ran off but was chased by Gibbons's sixteen year old daughter Bridget. More words were exchanged and Kelly then stabbed her in the neck. Bridget was taken to the dispensary but died soon after admission. Early on Boxing Day morning, Kelly was apprehended whilst hiding under a bed at his own home which was also in Midghall Street.

After the inquest returned a verdict of wilful murder Kelly appeared before Lord Chief Justice Coleridge on 10th February 1880. With different sides of the family lined up against each other, it was difficult for the jury to reach a clear conclusion. There was no doubt Kelly had stabbed Bridget, but some witnesses said that she had been shouting aggressively at him and that Gibbons had tried to choke him in the house. Kelly himself said he had a pipes talk in his hand which must have caused the cut.

Kelly was found guilty of manslaughter but the judge said it was 'just short of murder'. Referring to the pipe stalk defence, he said it was clear from the medical evidence that a knife had caused the wound and it was no accident.  Tellin him that he had 'taken human life under the severest of circumstances', the judge sentenced Kelly to twenty years penal servitude.

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